Chivalry is dead. Well it seemed that way today anyway. I was returning to my office from taking my lunch this afternoon and as I walked into the foyer of my office I felt a presence behind me - so I instinctively held open the door. A very nasty American woman then launched into me. She was vitriolic. I can't recall her exact words but it was something to the effect of, "Don't you think I can open the goddam door for myself? Do I look incapacitated?"
I was shocked and aghast and her hostile and accusatory comments came completely out of left field. I was stunned and appalled at the same time and I did not know what to say or how to respond. I think that I just stood there with my mouth open.
The term "out of left field" means completely unexpected. Ironically it is American slang. It is believed to have its origins from the game of baseball which is a ridiculous sport where players hit a ball with a stick and then run around a diamond shaped series of 'bases'. I don't know or care how the term relates to this game but people commonly use it in the same context that I have used it.
I shall try and avoid the use of the term in the future.
The word "chivalry" is beautifully French and medieval. It is derived from the French word "chevalerie" which means "horse soldiery" and it is associated with the times of the Knights of the Middle Ages. The Knights of the Middle Ages had a very noble code of conduct. The Code of Conduct of these Knights was to act with great honor and to protect the vulnerable people in their society - such as widows and children and the poor.
Knights actually took a vow to conduct themselves with great dignity and courtesy and respect. They were kind and compassionate and merciful and they were brave beyond belief. Knights were religious warriors and even though they wore armor and fought great battles they would not hesitate to leap from their mounts to open doors for women. It would have been expected of them. Knights had excellent manners and they despised poor behavior.
They were chivalrous.
The most famous Knights are of course the ones of the Round Table. These were the Knight from the times of the legendary King Arthur who quested for the Holy Grail. I used to love reading this story when I was little and I could imagine myself astride a great white steed slaying dragons and fighting infidel. I could envisage myself saving damsels in distress. They were times when people used terms like "thee" and "thou" and "come hither".
Damsels is a most excellent word too and it also is French in origin and is from the medieval era. "Dameisele" is old French for a "woman of noble birth". I must say that I really do have a thing for the French accent - spoken by women - not men. My Scottish work colleague Jo Bo is married to a French dude and she speaks the language fluently. I find it disturbingly arousing to hear her speaking French on the phone in the office.
Her gorgeous kids go to the French school here in Singapore and Jo Bo occasionally yabbers away to the school in French. It drives me crazy. In a most desirous way. She waves her hands about a bit and pouts when she speaks French and I loiter around just to listen to her. I actively encourage her to speak French as much as I can however she is onto my ploy and mostly refuses.
C'est la vie.
The American woman who was so rude to me today was I think a modern day suffragette. Interestingly and quite coincidently the term suffragette is also French medieval in it's origins. The word 'suffrage" loosely translates to "lend support" or "right to vote".
The Suffragette movement is particularly associated with the actions that were taken by women in Great Britain and the United States in the late part of the nineteenth century. The Suffragettes collectively campaigned for women's entitlement to vote and to be regarded on an equal footing with men. It was the birth of the Women's liberation movement - which by the way, I fully support. Women have as much right to do everything that we men do and I think that they are often more sensible and logical and practical than the majority of we males. They certainly mature more quickly than we do.
I think if more women were in positions of political power we would likely have less wars and social unrest - although this particular American woman who I encountered today would likely be as prepared to invade countries and blow things up as her male American counterparts. She was obviously raised very poorly as well and she has very little awareness of good manners or honorable behavior. She would never have qualified to be a Knight or a Damsel but she would have made an excellent dragon.
She certainly breathed a great deal of fire.
If I happen to encounter her again I may in fact slay her with my sword umbrella.
She was a nasty piece of work.